Painting The Real And The Unreal Worlds

Updated: Nov 9 2003, 05:30am hrs
Aren't the paintings very spontaneous asked Sharan Apparao, the owner of the Apparao Galleries. Then, looking fondly at the framed paintings which her men were busy putting up at Triveni Kala Sangam, in Delhi, she spoke once again, as if to herself, They are simply sensational.

Ms Apparao was speaking about artist Sanjeev Khandekar and his solo exhibition Rumour of Truth which is on show till November 22 at the Delhi gallery.

And just like his paintings, Mr Khandekar is also different from the lot. But paintings are not all that fascinate the vice-president (Corporate Affairs) of Reliance Industries Ltd. He is also the author of a few books. One has won him the Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad Award.

Born on February 14, 1958, he was brought up in a small village called Sangli in western Maharashtra and did his studies there. It was in 1971, when I was in class VIII that I got hold of a copy of Youth Times, which carried an article on Picasso with some pictures of the artist and his paintings, reminisces Mr Khandekar. He adds, Then I didnt know who Picasso was. The next day I carried the newspaper to my school and asked my teacher about Picasso. Later on, I got the clipping framed and I still carry it with me. It is probably since then the painter in me was born. But it was only since 1996 that I have started painting seriously.

One look at his paintings and you realise he has painted rather seriously from then on. He paints the world as he sees it, he tells you. And his exposure to the corporate world has given his work a very individualistic character. So, one can see paintings of a man desperately trying to catch hold of a falling stock (read company share); a mother throwing her egg into the web (read worldwide web); the death of a search engine (if google dies); etc. The stock market, the Internet, FM Radio, etc, are very much a part of our daily lives these days, Mr Khandekar explains. He divides the space into two halvesone depicts the real, materialistic world and the other, the subconscious world.

But the writer in him developed at an even younger age. As he grew up, he became more concerned about the socio-economic problems of western Maharashtra which took the centre-stage of the essays and poetry of young Khandekar. I could not speak a full sentence in English when I first came to Mumbai from Sangli for higher studies, he confesses. At Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mr Khandekar, however, came in contact with people like Vijay Tendulkar and others who honed his creativity. I started working on my book, Sankalp, on socio-economic problems in western Maharashtra, Mr Khandekar recollects. The book was published in 1982, the year I joined Hindustan Petroleum, which was my first job after postgraduation in psychology, and it won the Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad Award.

It inspired him to start work on another book. After office hours, I worked on my second book, Ashant Parva, is a novel based on my industrial experience in HPCL, Mr Khandekar says. The book was published in 1992.

By this time Mr Khandekar had shot to the headlines of all leading newspapers in the country. Meanwhile he had joined the Dabhol Power Corporation as vice-president, Community Relations. The beleaguered power company drew flak from environmental and social activists and Mr Khandekar was the man responsible for defence. During these years, I had the chance to see the corporate world more closely than any other painters, says Mr Khandekar. The experiences were both positive and negative, he adds. But the revolution in information technology and the changed new world influenced him more than anything else which has been largely reflected in his ongoing solo show.